Motorcycle accidents often result in major injuries and fatalities. Because of the way motorcycles are built, those who ride them are more vulnerable to catastrophic injuries. California's roadways beckon motorcyclists largely because of year-round good weather and milder temperatures. However, there is also ever-present danger on the state's freeways, highways and surface streets, particularly for motorcyclists.
At the Vaziri Law Group, APC we believe analyzing recent motorcycle statistics will be crucial when it comes to determining what causes motorcycle accidents and how they can be prevented. Because a large number of motorcycle accidents occur due to driver negligence, understanding the nuances of motorcycle crash numbers can help us all remain more vigilant on the road and be more cognizant of the hazards motorcyclists face.
U.S. Motorcycle Collision Trends
All traffic accidents have been trending upward nationwide over the last few years, and motorcycle accidents are no different. From 2018 to 2019, motorcycle accident injuries rose from about 82,000 to 84,000. Since 2015, each year, motorcycle accident fatalities across the U.S. have reached more than 5,000 victims. Also, 2020 went down as one of the worst years on record for motorcyclists in spite of lockdowns and a general reduction in roadway traffic because of coronavirus-related lockdowns.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that when considering vehicle miles traveled in 2019, motorcyclists were roughly 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to be fatally injured in a traffic accident, and about four times more likely to be injured. California leads the list of the most dangerous states for motorcyclists, reporting the second most motorcycle accident deaths in 2020. Florida ranked first and Texas, third.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics In California
According to California's Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS), which maintains the most up-to-date motorcycle accident statistics, there were 597 motorcycle accident deaths in the state of California. Those numbers increased from 2019 to 2021 - with 500 deadly motorcycle accidents reported in 2019, 580 in 2020 and 597 in 2021.
Los Angeles County reported the highest number of fatal motorcycle accidents statewide. The county saw a similar upward trend in fatal motorcycle accidents with 107 reported in 2019, 125 in 2020 and 127 in 2021. TIMS also recorded about 3,000 injuries as a result of motorcycle collisions in Los Angeles County in 2021.
High Risk Behaviors Most Associated with Accidents and Fatalities
There are two main dangerous behaviors that are most often associated with motorcycle accidents and fatalities:
Impaired vehicle operation: Riding a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs leads to a number of fatal motorcycle collisions. In 2021, 25% of motorcyclists killed in accidents had elevated blood alcohol levels. Also, the accident rate was 3% higher in states where marijuana has been legalized including California.
Distracted Driving: Driving while distracted is one of the most common causes of all traffic accidents. Motorcycle collisions are no exception. Distracted driving occurs when motorists take their hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or attention away from the act of driving. Examples of distracted driving could range from cell phone use to eating, drinking, reading, grooming or applying makeup while driving.
An act as simple as turning to talk to a passenger is also distracted driving. While drivers of passenger vehicles like cars or SUVs may not suffer serious injuries in an accident caused by a distracted driver, such collisions with motorcycles could lead to catastrophic or fatal injuries. Learn more by reading our article on facts about distracted driving.
Fatalities and Injuries by Age Group
According to NHTSA, the number of older riders - 55 and above - increased from 3% in 1975 to 27% in 2020. In the year 2016, more than half (54%) of all motorcycle accident deaths involved riders who were 40 or older. This is a matter of demographics. As the motorcyclist population ages, there are simply a higher number of older motorcyclists on the road.
It is also important to remember that older riders may have slower reaction times and on occasion, lack the ability to handle more powerful motorcycles. In 2020, the age group that contributed most to fatalities from motorcycle crashes included riders between the ages of 25 and 29.
Fatalities and Injuries by Months
A majority of injuries from motorcycle accidents occurred between May and October. In each month during this period, more than 1,000 motorcycle accident injuries were reported. The number of fatalities was distributed evenly in all months of the year. However, the least number of motorcycle deaths were reported in January and the most in August.
This is because motorcycling is at an all-time high during the summer months.
Fatalities and Injuries by Counties
- In 2021, the county with the most motorcycle accident injuries and fatalities was Los Angeles County with 989.
- Other counties with 200 or more injuries and fatalities were Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.
- The county with the highest number of fatalities was Los Angeles with 127 killed in motorcycle crashes.
- The counties with the lowest number of injuries and fatalities were Alpine, Plumas and Sierra counties with 2 each.
Accident Statistics in California by Cities
- In 2021, the city of Los Angeles had the most motorcycle accident injuries in the state with 1,158 people injured.
- San Diego had the second highest number of motorcyclist accident injuries with 736 and San Francisco had 486.
- The city of Los Angeles also had the highest number of motorcycle accident fatalities in 2021 with 55 deaths followed by San Diego (18), Sacramento (14) and San Francisco (13).
Motorcycle Helmet Use in Accidents
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles' Handbook, all motorcyclists and passengers in California must wear a helmet that is approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation or DOT. These helmets are particularly effective when it comes to reducing the incidence of head and traumatic brain injuries in motorcycle accident victims.
Head injuries are the number cause of death among motorcycle accident victims. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reported in 2019 that deaths involving riders not wearing helmets dropped by 18% in 2019 compared to the year before.
Tips for Motorcycle Riders to Avoid Accidents and Injuries
- Maintain your motorcycle in good working order and be sure to inspect your motorcycle before each ride.
- Be sure to wear helmets and other protective gear.
- Never ride a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
- Make sure you have the training necessary to ride a motorcycle safely. The Motorcyclist Training Course (MTC) is a 15-hour course, which includes five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of actual riding. In California, the MTC is mandatory for those under the age of 21, but is also recommended to those 21 and older who are seeking to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on their California driver license.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the likelihood of dying in a motorcycle accident?
The national fatality rate for motorcycle accidents is just over 5%, which means that you have a 95% chance of surviving a motorcycle crash. There are more than 8 million registered motorcycles in the United States. One in 1,600 motorcyclists are likely to die in a crash.
What percentage of motorcycle riders get in accidents?
Just over 1% of motorcycles or motorcyclists get involved in accidents each year in the U.S. Each year, there are around 89,000 motorcycle accidents across the United States with a little over 8 million registered motorcycles.
How much more likely is a motorcycle to crash than a car?
Per vehicle miles traveled in 2020, motorcyclists were 28 times more likely to be killed in a car accident compared to passenger vehicles. Motorcycles account for about 14% of all traffic fatalities.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, the experienced motorcycle accident lawyers in LA at the Vaziri Law Group can help you better understand your legal rights and options. We can help you secure maximum compensation to cover damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities and pain and suffering. Call us to schedule a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.